Can you eat cow brains?

In this short article, we will answer the question, “Can you eat cow brains?” with an in-depth analysis of cow brains, the nutritional composition of cow brains, the health benefits and the dangers associated with eating cow brains, and how to cook cow brains. 

Can you eat cow brains?

Yes, you can eat cow brains. Cow brains are packed with beneficial nutrients and provide many benefits to human health. However, there are also a few reported cases of mad-cow disease that is acquired from eating diseased cow brains. 

Cow brains have a mushy texture and very mild flavour and are typically flavoured with sauces such as chile sauce and Sauce ravigote.

Cow brains are used in the French, Spanish, Italian and Mexican cuisines, among others where they are referred to as sesos in Spanish and are eaten in tacos and quesadillas. In Pakistan, cow brains are known as Maghaz in Urdu. It is also consumed in Portugal, Indonesia, and the United States, especially in St. Louis, Missouri, and the Ohio River valley.

The nutritional composition of cow brain

The cow brain is full of beneficial nutrients. A 100-gram serving of cow brain provides:

  • Calories: 141 Kcal
  • Total Fat: 10.3 grams
  • Saturated Fat: 2.3 grams
  • Cholesterol: 3,010 mg
  • Sodium: 126 mg
  • Potassium: 274 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 1.1 grams
  • Protein: 10.9 grams
  • Vitamin A: 160 Iu
  • Vitamin D: 0
  • Vitamin E: 2.1 mg
  • Vitamin K: 0.1 mcg
  • Folate: 6.3 mcg
  • Niacin: 4.2 mg
  • Riboflavin: 0.2 mg
  • Thiamine: 0.1 mg
  • Vitamin B6: 0.1 mg
  • Vitamin B12: 10.1 mg
  • Vitamin C: 10.5 mg
  • Calcium: 9.0 mg
  • Iron: 2.3 mg
  • Magnesium: 12.0 mg
  • Phosphorus: 335 mg
  • Zinc: 1.1 mg
  • Copper: 0.2 mg
  • Choline: 491 mg


Choline is an important nutrient that plays a role in muscle health and its functioning. Along with muscles, choline also has an important role in the liver and brain. The animal brain, especially the beef brain is a rich source of choline. So, it has been prescribed as a supplement to restore deficiency of choline in choline-deficient people.

Omega-3 fatty acid (DHA):

The beef brain is considered one of the most important sources of omega-3 fatty acids. A hundred grams of the cooked beef brain contains almost 700 mg of omega-3 fatty acids. 

Omega-3 fatty acid-rich diet is also essential for pregnant women which compensates for their nutritional requirement. Research shows that if the dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acid is enough then it can play a role in enhancing the critical thinking skills of a child. It can also minimize inflammation, stress and neurological disorders. 


Hearing cholesterol makes one think that it must be bad as it is also linked with cardiac diseases, but it is not the case every time. Our body synthesizes both good and bad cholesterol, where higher levels of good cholesterol and lower levels of bad cholesterol are necessary.

Cholesterol is among the important compounds which are required by the body. It plays its role in making cell membranes and also in the synthesis of steroid hormones. Beef brain or any animal brain has enough cholesterol in it which can help the human body.

The health benefits of cow brains 

The rich nutrient profile of the cow brain provides a lot of benefits to human health. 

The nutrients and growth factors present in the cow brain can benefit our own brain’s health and processing speed. 

The cow brain may help in: 

  • Maintaining brain health
  • Improving mood and person’s well being
  • Support long term potentiation
  • Improves working memory
  • Neurogenesis 

The cow brain may also benefit athletes and other fitness freaks. The large amounts of cholesterol present in the cow brain are converted into great quantities of testosterone, pregnenolone, DHEA, and progesterone. All these hormones can help the body keep its cortisol levels in control and adjust with the stressfulness of exercise. 

Dangers associated with eating cow brains

The consumption of cow brains is restrained in many regions because it may contain prion which can cause different nervous system disorders. Prion is an abnormal protein that can trigger other brain proteins which then fold abnormally.

The diseases caused by prions can affect humans and animals but can also spread from meat to humans. The most common nervous disease caused by prions in humans is Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease that can lead to dementia and, ultimately, death. In addition, humans may contract Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (also known as Mad-cow disease), by consuming the nervous tissue of diseased cows. Still, there have been few such cases in regions where cow brains are eaten.


In this short article, we have answered the question, “Can you eat cow brains?” with an in-depth analysis of cow brains, the nutritional composition of cow brains, the health benefits and the dangers associated with eating cow brains, and how to cook cow brains. 


Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.